Digital Rights Management

Copy Protection that Angers Legitimate Purchasers

Steve Smith, talks about DRM, the technology that angers legit purchasers, and gets laughed at by pirates.

Episode #5-50 released on August 31, 2015

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DRM, three light letters that piss off the Internet, they stand for Digital Rights Management, and this was in direct response to piracy. DRM, is designed most notably to curve the illicit distribution of digital media at the discretion of the publisher.

Now, there are two sides to the DRM debate, but before I point out the issues with DRM, I'll talk about the various kinds of DRM that exist that affect operating systems, games and applications specifically, because not all types of DRM are necessarily as evil, as other kinds.

For gamers, DRM can be as archaic as the use of a serial number or CD key. This technique was made popular with Microsoft's Windows platform where a non-OEM computer user installing a box edition of Windows had to enter a 25 character cd key to install and use Windows. The tendency to use CD Keys have been replaced by steam keys, and keys to other platforms where purchasing the game within the client like Steam is possible, but buying from alternate sources is, also, possible. Steam, itself, is a form of DRM. If you purchase games within the Steam platform, the game is tied to your account, and you are not necessarily issued a CD key, except for rare cases where the game developers may still require periodic use of one, however, Steam does provide a pop up that allows you to copy and paste the correct key.

Accompanied with CD Keys was the implementation of Limited Install activations, where an application or game can be installed a specific amount of times before the application's CD key was no longer valid. Some methods to prevent issues with users was the roll back of installation feature setup by the uninstallation of the application, but this requires a current and active Internet connection to work. Some work of the basis of time going by where the number of installations of the application is rolled back automatically when a set amount of weeks, months or years has passed. However, the majority of application and game developers did at the request of the user roll back the number of installs in the event you maxed out the number of installs, where a significant issue or upgrade to your computer forced you to reinstall your applications or games, especially if uninstallation was not possible at this point. It is, also, possible that a limited installation implementation be linked to an account and not a specific cd key, as well.

POA, or Persistent Online Authentication, was, also, another way publishers like EA, Ubisoft, Valve, and Atari to validate the validity of your game installation, however, this technique was soon abandoned by various publishers because of the limitations of their systems, and this meant that legitimate users where at the mercy of hackers who would DDOS servers that were used from remote POA. However, even if this tendency is starting to disappear, many publishers, including Blizzard, have, also, shifted to server based game logic processing where the user's client is merely a terminal connected to their server. If the server is ever targeted by hackers, or even shut down, the end user is out of luck, because even if POA is not used, the game logic was processed by the server, and not the end user's computer.

Now, CD keys and serial numbers, the biggest most annoying problem with this, is if you lose your CD key or serial number you can't reinstall, reactivate, or reuse your game, application or operating system. It is especially more annoying if the product is no longer for sale, as well.

Limited installation activation can, also, be very annoying for users who frequently install, update, or upgrade their computer systems.

However, the worst is server side game logic processing, or Persistent Online Authentication. Unlike limited installations and cd keys, which you can lose, PAE and server side processing requires that the publishers server be online, in order, to function. This means that games that have been abandoned by publishers may not, or will no longer work despite having a legitimate copy of the game, software, or operating system.

The best DRM, provided the company never goes bankrupt, and no serial key is required, is the account attached limited install game activation technique, because you don't have a serial number to lose, and if anything happens, you can always just have the company allow extra installs. This is because the server is only really required during the installation, failing that, local activation with a cd key is ultimately the best, but don't lose that CD Key, ever, or you will be out of luck.

Topic Proposed by Cartfan-youtube, and episode dedicated to my Grandfather.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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